Lexi James Interview: "Don’t give up. Don’t take no for an answer"
As a New England front-runner in Pop-Country music, singer/songwriter Lexi James has amassed thousands of fans in her short career. She's toured up and down the Northeast and beyond with her message of feel-good, be yourself lyrics paired with a soulful vocal performance. Lexi James has shared the stage with country legends such as Charlie Daniels Band and Brad Paisley. Her new album "Ripple in the Water" is set to release THIS FALL! Check out our interview with her!
What inspired you to become a musician?
Well, I’ve always loved to sing. When I was little, I used to put on “concerts” and make my whole family pretend to be the crowd at the Garden in Boston. I’ve always felt a really strong connection to music and singing. But when I was ten, I actually developed a stutter and it’s one of the biggest reasons I love music as much as I do. Singing was my escape from that fear of stuttering. I didn’t have to worry about it. But the reality of pursuing a career in music is that you have to talk. On stage, in interviews, on the radio. There’s no avoiding it. So not only did music help me to escape from my fears of my stutter, but it forced me to face those fears head on.
I have to say, you have a killer voice girl! What did it feel like to cut a song co-written by Carrie Underwood on your first full-length album coming out this Fall? Did it change your approach to singing in any way?
Thank you so much! When my producer told me that he was sending me a song that was co-written by Carrie Underwood I was beyond excited. Carrie has ALWAYS been one of my biggest role models and inspirations so I feel honored to be able to sing a song that she had a hand in creating. And of course the song is incredible so that made it even more exciting! My goal is ALWAYS to sing from the heart, to connect to the song and, if it’s a song I didn’t write like this situation, I try to think about what the writers are trying to communicate. What’s their message but also, how do I interpret and relate to the song as well. I guess for me, I always approach every song with passion and dedication but Carrie is a powerhouse. She can BELT like no other and that was definitely something on my mind while thinking about how I wanted to sing this song. I wanted to be me and be authentic, but also pay homage to Carrie in a way, and I think, and hope, it really translates that way in the recording.
Tell us about recording at Ronnie’s Place.
Ronnie’s Place is incredible. I’ve been in the studio a few times before recording this album, and I always have a blast, but there was something really special about this time. It felt so comfortable and fun. The studio musicians were, of course, otherworldly and were so kind and funny. Being able to record my music in a place that has recorded so many hit songs and legendary artists is something that is incredibly humbling, but also makes you want to strive for greatness at the same time. Fun fact: I actually recorded my vocals using the same microphone that Billy Currington used to record his vocals for “People Are Crazy.” So yeah…it was pretty sweet.
Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
That’s such a tough question and I don’t think I can pick just one! I obviously love each song for different reasons. There are a couple I wrote on there, one is a new version of my song “Brave,” from my last EP and that song will always mean so much to me. Another song I wrote is called, “Raindrops,” and it’s a song I’m really proud of and love to sing. Then of course there is the one Carrie Underwood co-wrote called, “Feels Like It’s Gonna Rain.” And there is one other song that stands out that, once I heard it my immediate reaction was “I HAVE TO RECORD THAT SONG!” and it’s called, “Cowboys Always Ride Away.”
Have you thought about doing any duets?
I would absolutely love to do a duet someday! My dream duet, hands down, would be with Keith Urban. I am always in awe of his talent and his energy on stage. I’ve seen him three times in concert and he puts on the best show I’ve ever seen. But I also love his humbleness and I think he would be incredible to work with and create music with.
What’s your advice for young artists trying establish a name for themselves? Especially young females that may see you as a role model.
It’s a tough industry. And I know that is probably something young artists hear all the time, but it is so true, especially for women. Country music is a male dominated genre still and it’s incredibly difficult to break in and make a name for yourself, especially if you’re not from the South. I’ve been on the receiving end of some questioning glances when I say I’m a country singer from New England, but it’s where my heart is. I love all kinds of music. I grew up on mostly pop and rock. I really got into country when I was about 12 and there was no turning back. I consider myself to be a very genuine person and one of the things I love the most about country is the authenticity in the story telling. It’s something that drew me in. So my advice for young artists, especially women, is this: Don’t give up. Don’t take no for an answer. But also know that you’re going to hear the word no a hell of a lot more than you hear the word yes. Surround yourself with a great support system, with people who truly care about you and don’t stop until you get to wherever makes YOU happy.
What are your fondest food memories from childhood growing up in Maine?
Other than music, food is my favorite thing in the world. I’m very adventurous with food and I LOVE trying new things, but, of course, growing up in New England is not complete without fresh lobsters and clam chowder! But if I had to pick one, I’d say lobster for sure!
What's your favorite restaurant where you grew up?
There is this AMAZING Italian restaurant in the North End in Boston called Strega. It’s really small but the food is amazing and all of the staff has really thick authentic Italian accents. It’s always so much fun to go there. There’s nothing like Italian food from the North End!
What ingredient do you wish was local to Maine?
Honestly? I love seafood so growing up in a place with amazing fresh lobster, steamers, and fish is pretty great to me!
Any favorite places in Nashville yet?
The food scene in Nashville has BLOWN UP over the past five or so years and it’s beyond cool to see all of the cool new places to try! One time, my mom said she heard about a restaurant on TV in Nashville, called Kayne Prime, that she wanted to try. So we went and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. Their pork belly with homemade cotton candy on top? TO. DIE. FOR.
Describe your perfect meal.
Anything involving dessert. I have THE WORST sweet tooth of any person I’ve ever met. I could give up savory food forever and not miss it as long as I could eat desserts for the rest of my life. My mom is an AMAZING cook and she makes the best dark chocolate cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream AND homemade Oreo Ice cream. It’s ridiculous.
Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why?
I am such a stereotypical New Englander in the sense that I absolutely LOVE Dunkin' Donuts. I get my coffee from Dunkin' every single day and, honestly, who wouldn’t wanna be in a commercial with Gronk?!
ABOUT LEXI JAMES:
Lexi James walks onto stage armed with a fierce command of the converging genres of Country and Pop music. A relative newcomer to the country music world, Lexi James has already amassed a large fan following, and has several major performances under her belt including performing with Charlie Daniels and Brad Paisley. She performs with soulful vocals, captivating lyricism, and a stage presence reminiscent of the glory days of Reba. What distinguishes her from the rest of the pack is her undeniable charisma on and off the stage - She sure knows how to leave an impression.
Lexi James continues to push her music into new realms, with her newest work, "Ripple in the Water", to be released in 2018. The new album features songs co-written by Carrie Underwood, and was recorded with Grammy nominated Jeff Huskins. It promises to bring the next evolution in Lexi James music, unapologetically authentic. Her 2016 album "Brave" is no different in its authenticity, as it offers listeners a complex experience of her hurt and loss that are paired with courageously uplifting songs. Such is true with the title track "Brave" which challenges listeners to embrace their inner fire with its driving lyrics.
Lexi James not only performs these themes on stage, she lives them and they serve as a testament to her unrelenting spirit. In her childhood, she was subjected to immense bullying by peers that led to a stutter that she still carries with her today. On stage, however, she's freed from those chains and can sing unimpaired. This encouraged her to pursue singing and songwriting, and continues to be a driving force behind all she does. She encourages herself and others to embrace their uniqueness and does so in a way that will continue to influence her music for years to come.
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